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How to Reset Your Web Browser To Its Default Settings

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Want to reset your web browser to its default settings? You can’t necessarily just uninstall it — your personal files will stay on your computer. And if your browser is Internet Explorer, it can’t be uninstalled at all.

Resetting your browser to its default state can often fix problems. For example, a program you install may change your search engine, install toolbars, and do other unwelcome things. Or you may have accidentally changed advanced settings on your own.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome has an option that will reset itself to its default settings. To find this option, click the menu button (three horizontal lines) in the upper-right corner of the browser window and select “Settings”. Start typing “reset settings” in the search box. Settings matching the search term start displaying. Click the Perform a search for “reset browser” and you’ll see the Reset browser settings button.

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The Reset settings dialog box displays, telling you what resetting your settings will do. Click “Reset” if you’re sure you want to reset your Chrome settings.

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NOTE: You could also just plug chrome://settings/resetProfileSettings into Chrome’s address bar to pull up the Reset Settings dialog box.

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Use this option and Google Chrome will erase almost everything: your extensions, settings, cookies, history, home page, default search engine, and more. Chrome won’t delete your bookmarks, browsing history, or saved passwords, so your important personal data will be kept.

Learn more about troubleshooting Google Chrome crashes if resetting your Chrome settings didn’t solve your problem.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox also allows you to return it to its default state. To do so, click the Firefox menu button in the upper-right corner of the browser window and click “Open Help Menu”.

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Select “Troubleshooting Information” from the slide-out Help menu.

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Click “Refresh Firefox” under Give Firefox a tune up in the gray box in the upper-right corner of the Troubleshooting Information page.

NOTE: You can also enter “about:support” (without the quotes) in the address bar to access the Troubleshooting Information page.

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Click “Refresh Firefox” on the dialog box that displays. Firefox will erase your extensions and themes, browser preferences, search engines, site-specific preferences, and other browser settings. However, Firefox will attempt to preserve your bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, saved form history, saved passwords, cookies, and windows and tabs you had open.

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The Refresh feature resets Firefox by creating a new profile for you and copying the important data from the old profile into the new one. Your old profile is placed on the desktop in a folder titled “Old Firefox Data.” If you lose important data in the reset, you can attempt to recover it from this folder. If you don’t need the folder, you’re free to delete it.

Consult our guide to troubleshooting Firefox crashes for more information.

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Firefox restarts and a message displays. Choose whether you want to restore all the windows and tabs you had open, or only the ones you want and click “Let’s go!”

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Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer has the ability to reset its settings to the default ones. If you’re using Windows 8, resetting Internet Explorer on the desktop will also reset Modern Internet Explorer’s settings.

To do this, open the Internet Explorer desktop app, click the gear menu in the upper-right corner of the browser window, and select “Internet options” from the drop-down menu.

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Click the “Advanced” tab and then click “Reset” at the bottom. Internet Explorer warns you that “You should only use this if your browser is in an unusable state.” but that’s just to dissuade you from wiping out all your personal settings unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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Internet Explorer will disable browser add-ons and erase browser, privacy, security, and pop-up settings. If you also want to reset your home page and search providers, as well as delete temporary files, history entries, and cookies, select the “Delete personal settings” check box so there is a check mark in the box. Then, click “Reset”.

Your favorites and feeds won’t be erased. However, passwords you’ve saved in Internet Explorer will be deleted.

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A dialog box displays showing the reset progress. Once it’s done, click “Close”.

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After resetting Internet Explorer, you’ll have to restart your computer for your changes to take effect.

Read more about troubleshooting Internet Explorer crashes if you still experience problems.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.


Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 09/9/13

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